Latin was probably my favorite subject in high school. I loved the sound of the language, the fun declensions and conjugations, the Roman history and all the potential for reading and translating fun once I had a basic mastery of the language. I’ve often thought and wondered about sharing my love for Latin with my children. So, when I received the opportunity from Memoria Press to review their Latina Christiana I Complete Set, I knew that it was a great time for me to begin to introduce Latin to my 8 and 10 year old children.
What I Received
The Latina Christiana I Complete Set is a huge set of materials with everything that you’ll need to teach this Latin course to your children. In it, we received:
- The Student Workbook–This contains vocabulary words, maps, song lyrics and exercises to go along with each of the Latina Christiana lessons.
- Teacher Manual–The teacher manual explains to you how to teach this course. It also has the song lyrics and copies of the student workbook pages with answers. However, you also receive teaching tips and information for each lesson, questions to go along with the optional history component, reproducible drill sheets, lesson quizzes and cumulative tests over every five lessons.
- Pronunciation CD–This contains pronunciations of all blessings and words and performances of all the songs. This CD is also perfectly set up for you to be able to use daily for vocabulary and grammar drills
- Instructional DVDs–This set of five DVDs contains video instruction for each week’s lesson. Each video lesson takes approximately 30-45 minutes to go through with your student.
- Flashcards–These are small cardstock vocabulary cards to go along with each lesson. They are valuable for having both the words and the English derivatives printed right on the card.
You’ll notice throughout this review that I am working with two students on this course. For each additional student you have, all you’ll need to purchase is a student book, and Memoria Press sells them for $16.00. Since it is my intention to use this as a foreign language curriculum for us this fall, I went ahead and also purchased the optional Famous Men of Rome book to do the history component of these lessons. I did that because I knew that Rose would really appreciate learning more about Roman history as she studied Latin.
The Layout of a Typical Week
Latina Christiana includes 25 lessons plus five review lessons, creating a 30 week course if you and your children progress at the stage of one lesson per week. The pace that you’ll go at will depend on your children (as you’ll shortly see in the next section of the review). However, I’m also going to share a recommended weekly schedule that I inferred from the DVDs, teacher manual etc., and began trying to implement with my children.
Day 1: You will teach the complete lesson given in the Lesson plan and then you will drill your students with the CD using the reproducible vocabulary and grammar forms in the book. (You can use the DVD for the main teaching or you can teach yourself and use the DVD a separate day to reinforce your introduction. After reading the lesson materials, I decided that it was probably better to do the main teaching first with my children before they watched the video lessons.)
Day 2: Watch the lesson DVD and take notes. Lessons on the DVD are 30-45 minutes long. Drill with CD and vocabulary and grammar forms
Day 3: Drill with CD and vocabulary and grammar forms. If you’re using Famous Men of Rome, read section covered in there and discuss.
Day 4: Complete written exercises in student workbook with teacher help as needed.
Day 5: Lesson quizzes (or review lesson test), Latin games, review
How We Are Using This Course
In my head, the schedule that I wrote out above would be perfect for my children and we’d have a harmonious and lovely time learning Latin. So, the first day I put in the CD to teach them “Salve,” recite the table blessing, and sing “Christus Vincit.” By the time that was done, I could already see the overwhelmed looks they were giving me, so we just went over the Latin saying, discussed its’ background and put St. Benedict in our timeline notebook.
That was truly all the new that they were up to in one day, but that’s okay. The teacher’s guide clearly spells out that the schedule and timing are flexible, and that doing just a little Latin each day would benefit them more than a marathon session a week. I want them to love Latin.
I would find myself slowly working through the sections of the lesson daily, taking about a week to introduce the lesson before I ever even introduced the instructional DVD, the drills and the other pieces of the curriculum. We ended up taking three weeks to go through the first lesson. So, I’m budgeting in 2-3 weeks per lesson and planning on completing this as a two-year course.
My Opinions on Latina Christiana
I really like the setup and layout of the program. I love the CD with the songs and tracks for doing drills. I love the way the teacher manual is laid out. It’s very helpful and everything is low-key. My children find that they prefer for me to teach them everything more slowly first and then they watch the DVD after they have at least heard of all the things in the lesson. However, the video is also a great way to reinforce and add to your student’s pronunciation and knowledge of Latin and if your children are more advanced, it would also be a great way to teach the material to them..
I also love that I decided to get a copy of Famous Men of Rome. Adding the history into each lesson really helped my story-driven girl to enjoy this curriculum much more than she would have without it. Even though it’s optional, I would seriously consider purchasing it to go with your Latin program if you have a kid who loves history.
My fourth grader has a great grip on what we’re doing and loves Latina Christiana. He’s mastering the material. It’s taking him a little longer than one lesson per week, but if I pushed him he could probably go faster. He just wouldn’t have as much fun. He has a great attitude about Latin and doesn’t think it’s too hard at this point. He even tells me which portions he feels he needs more work with on each lesson so that we can make a review plan going forward into the next lessons.
My second grader has had a little more difficulty retaining vocabulary and mastering the concepts, but she’s slightly below the age range of the Latina Christiana program, and since I want to be able to teach both my fourth and second grader together (or else I’d move her to Prima Latina), I’m just building in more review games and review pieces like word walls to help aid her memory.
There’s one more aspect of the program that I want to talk about a little because it’s my favorite. Each lesson contains a derivative section. In this section, you take the Latin words your child is learning in the lesson and find English words that are derived from this Latin word.
For example, in our first lesson, one of our vocabulary words was “oro” or “I pray, speak.” We then learned as we did derivatives that an English derivative for “oro” is “orator.” The week after we learned that, we read a book about Patrick Henry and how he was a great orator. That word is forever cemented into both my children’s heads all because of Latin. Similar things have happened since, so I feel that a great side effect of using this course and is how many new English words my children are using because of it.
So, in the end, I really like this program, and I love the Latin and English that they’re learning from it. I feel like it’s a great way to teach your child Latin, and I feel like all the materials work together in a really harmonious way.